25 Oct

November 2021

During most of the year the colourful birds we colloquially call jays are invisible in the woods. Now we see them. They use acorns as a major source of food throughout the winter and yesterday I saw six in one tree at the same time. Perhaps it has been a rich acorn harvest this year. I even saw several in an oak when parked in Taunton. The jay is the main reason why oak forests colonised the whole of Britain after the end of glaciation. As the ice retreated the oaks living in the south ( at that time there was no English Channel or North Sea) produced many acorns and the jays found newly accessible unfrozen ground to bury them in as a store for the winter. Jays know they won’t germinate until the spring and that even then they are still edible. Acorns will only germinate under open ground and so need a dispersal mechanism as falling to the ground under the tree will not promote germination.. Enter the jays. The birds need to be quite large as acorns are relatively heavy so  they need to generate enough lift to take off with a full load. How the two, oaks and jays, evolved to be so interdependent we shall never know but this interdependence led to oaks rapidly colonising Britain. Even today, if land bordering oak woods is rewilded the same mechanism applies. The oaks of Curry Woods are being spread by jays and we have many seedling oaks growing in our wildflower/ light woodland area. The jay is a spectacular colour and also very noisy; it is mimic and can sound like other birds and even cats! The Latin name Garrulus glandarius means “noisy” and “of acorns”.The Trust is allowing an area of land between the new planting and the old wood to rewild so will be on the lookout for seedling oaks to appear next spring. Turning to funding. Somerset Rivers Authority have financed the planting, protection and maintenance of up to 400 more trees under their “Trees for water” initiative. The Parish Council have given £1500 for boundary delineation, to include fencing and hedge laying. The Aviva Community Fund have approved funding for the Trust. Their mechanism is unusual and interesting. After the 26th October the Trust has to set up a Crowdfunder page. Aviva employees can then pledge money for an approved project and Aviva pays into the fund the accumulated total of the employees’ pledges. The general public can also donate and we would ask you to support us if at all possible. We are doing this to protect the village from flooding and to make a village contribution to fixing carbon and increasing biodiversity. The CWCT land is available for everyone to appreciate and enjoy so we hope you can make a pledge. Search for Crowdfunder using your search engine and then Curry Woods Conservation Trust. It will probably find just Curry Woods as its a pretty unique identifier. The page will go live after the 26th October.Finally, we are planting the next tranche of trees either at the end of November or early December and hope some of you want to be involved. Please contact me if you want to be kept up to date on planting times etc. at PWGoodenough@aol.com. A brand new Trust website is being considered but is not ready yet. The clothing company Timberland has an enthusiastic team of volunteers who have agreed to help with planting; they will be funded by Timberland, which seems very fitting

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